Far Northerners have been promised everything from a cancer wellness centre to 100,000ha of irrigated agriculture as federal candidates try to woo voters, as reported by The Cairns Post.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull yesterday broke up Mother’s Day celebrations to call a double dissolution election on July 2.
Incumbent MPs Bob Katter (Kennedy) and Warren Entsch (Leichhardt) have both vowed to ensure the Far North gets a fair go as they prepare to defend their seats.
Still stinging from Cairns’ lost patrol boat contract, Mr Entsch said he wanted to focus on the city’s capacity to service and repair marine vessels.
“We are going to do the Pacific patrol boats’ maintenance work in Cairns and we’re very well positioned for it,” he said.
Other projects on Mr Entsch’s agenda include the COUCH Cancer Help and Wellness Centre in Cairns, the Cairns Innovation Centre, the Cairns Performing Arts Centre, upgrading water infrastructure in the Douglas Shire, and funding for mental health and tropical sports conditioning.
He’s also keen to see work start on the Hann Highway, and urged the State Government to release funding.
“The State Government has been dragging their feet on it, which is very frustrating and unfortunate,” he said.
“There has been $600 million allocated into a pool for roads across Northern Australia that are important to the economy of Northern Australia, and both the Gregory and Hann have been identified as two, but because these are roads owned by the state, we’ve got to get them to come on-board.”
Mr Katter’s opponents should be prepared for the longstanding MP to be “unleashed like a tiger” onto the election campaign.
He bemoaned the lack of Far North representation on the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility board and money spent developing the region.
“The people of North Queensland must ask themselves, are we complete and utter bloody mugs?” he said.
“What we’ve got is politicians pre-election pork barrelling promises, we’re exactly the same as we were three years ago.”
Mr Katter’s priorities for the Kennedy electorate, which covers 568,993sq km of northern outback Queensland, are roads and water infrastructure.
“I’ve already had discussions with one of the biggest players in the sugar industry on the upper North Johnstone transfer, which should give us 7000-8000ha of irrigation,” he said.
“The SATDS (Southern Atherton Tablelands Development Scheme) has been reworked and it’s quite brilliant, and I will be throwing myself passionately into that.
“The other big ticket item, which isn’t in the budget and I’m infuriated about it, is the Hann Highway.
“We can get all-weather tourism in Far North Queensland if we get the Hann Highway.
“More importantly, we produce about six per cent of all of Australia’s fruit and vegetables, it cuts 750km off the journey to the northern Victoria and Adelaide markets… and decongests the highway.” To read more click here.
The Developing Northern Australia Conference Above the Line – unleashing the north’s potential will be held on 20-22 June 2016 at Darwin Convention Centre.
The Conference continues the dialogue started in 2015 following the release of the Australian Government’s White Paper on Developing Northern Australia. To register your attendance at the conference CLICK HERE.